Veteran audio engineer waits 6 months for unemployment benefits

DEO, News 6 trying to resolve ‘expired’ benefits issue

LONGWOOD, Fla. – A Longwood audio engineer and his family are out of sync after trying to acquire his “expired” benefits from the Department of Economic Opportunity for the past six months.

Sean Shannon, who works in the entertainment industry, turned to the DEO for help since the pandemic shut down live shows and concerts.

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“My show ended and then everything on my calendar was cancelled, it just all happened at once in March (2020),” Shannon said.

He told News 6 he hasn’t received unemployment benefits since March 27, 2021. Ten days after our interview, Shannon received a phone message from a DEO representative saying they would have to apply for benefits.

“Regarding notification you had not been able to request weeks since March... that is because you do need to file a new regular application to determine if you would be eligible for a new benefit year as the old one has expired,” said a DEO representative.

A law signed by President Biden on March 12, however, should have extended Shannon’s benefit year end date from March to September of this year. The American Rescue Plan Act allows gig workers, such as Shannon, to continue receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits through September 2021.

In the mean time, the Shannon family is still trying to make ends meet.

“Carol (Shannon’s wife) is DoorDashing and she’s able to get electric bill money and stuff like that and I’m doing the occasional gig,” Shannon continued.

When News 6 reached out about this halted benefits issue, DEO Press Secretary Andrew Nixon told News 6, “Thank you for reaching out and thank you for sending this information to us. The Department is unable to comment on claim or claimant specific information; however, I have sent this to the Reemployment Assistance team for review and someone should be reaching out to this individual.”

About the Authors:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.